Cuts to force budgets and workplace pressures are now taking their toll, says support group.
The numbers of firearms officers seeking help from a support group has been growing rapidly â€“ suggesting that cuts to force occupational health budgets are taking their toll, it has been claimed.
Mark Williams, Chairman of the Police Firearms Officersâ€™ Association, said that numbers of officers approaching the organisation are continuing to rocket, with many seeking counselling and assistance following operational deployments.
Many officers claim they face waits of several weeks before seeing councellors in their forces â€“ and five months before seeing NHS professionals, he added.
Mr Williams told PoliceOracle.com: â€œThere are many officers coming to us now.
â€œFortunately we have more than 230 counsellors and therapists that we can despatch within 48 hours â€“ I think the current situation is inevitable given the pressure on forces to save money.
â€œIn addition, firearms officers are constantly under pressure and featuring in the media. They must be able to do their jobs in the full confidence that they will be supported.â€
The Chairman highlighted that some officers had been suspended from duty for months while police shootings were investigated â€“ and this was playing havoc with morale.
He said that supporting officers during 2012 had cost the association around Â£62,000 â€“ yet the past month alone had seen the support group part with Â£19,000.
Mr Williams said: â€œIn terms of counselling, I would say this has increased by 100 per cent. We are comfortable in the service we are providing by workloads have gone up dramatically.
â€œWe are delighted to be in a position in which we can act very quickly â€“ and we are very much looking to work increasingly with the Federation and forces in what we do.
â€œSince it started in 2009, the Police Firearms Officersâ€™ Association has rocketed in membership to more than 4,000 and we look forward to continuing our support to them.â€
Firearms officers: Many seeking counselling